And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this [shall be] a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

I can never get through this passage without crying. Part of it is because my heart aches for all the ill will that we display towards others, that ill will that I feel directed towards me at least some of the time by people that ought to be wishing me something better. It’s sad to see how some of us who seem most concerned about God’s business labor tirelessly against this most important of messages.

After all, the last words in that passage indicate that even God wishes for peace and good will among his people over all the earth; no matter who we are or what we believe, we are loved and it is no small comfort at this time of year to remember that there is someone up there who wishes us well, even if others don’t. That too makes me cry, but for a completely different reason: that verse from St. Luke’s gospel makes me feel as though all of us are included in the larger family of humanity even if we’re not welcome the rest of the year.